Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe Afraid of Sincerity?

Superhero films have no doubt, become one of the most popular genres in this decade.

Superhero films have no doubt, become one of the most popular genres in this decade. Whether as a form of escapism or even as a way to relive our childhood dream of becoming a superhero and fighting the bad guys, superhero films have made a place in everyone’s hearts. However, most of these films that get releases just don’t seem to have heart. Or could it be that they are just too afraid to show their heart?

Drama Vs Comedy

  • SpiderMan (2002)

There is a scene in Spider-Man (2002) which takes place at 78% of the run time, where Peter Parker finally accepts and embraces his heroic side. On the contrast, there is a scene in Doctor Strange (2018) at a similar run time and with a similar purpose. But the two scenes could not differ from each other more. In Doctor Strange, after this scene, there is immediately a scene added for comic value. This undermines the sincerity of the protagonist and the scene in the favor for a joke. This is something that happens not only in Doctor Strange but also in a majority of Marvel movies.

Doctor Strange

If this device is used in movies that are parodies then no damage is done. There are no serious expectations from these movies rather they thrive on such tropes. However now even so-called serious movies of the genre have begun overusing this trope. This is not to say that such moments are not appreciable. But there is a cost of using these at the wrong time. This gives the feeling that the writers are not confident in their stories. That they use comedy to distract from the dramatic shortcomings of the film.

The Problem and Possible Solution

Wonder Woman

This makes me wonder if the reason is that Marvel is afraid of emotions. That they are afraid that the emotion will turn in on them or that they would appear cheesy. Patty Jenkins who directed Wonder Woman (2017) had actually said this in an interview with the New York Times:

“Cheesy” is one of the words banned in my world. I’m tired of sincerity being something we have to be afraid of doing. It’s been 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has to shield away from sincerity, real sincerity because they feel that they have to wink at the audience because that’s what kids like.'

I believe that she is right. We yearn for stories that make us feel connected. For all the possible flaws in Wonder Woman, lack of feeling is not one of them. Wonder Woman makes you feel things and the scenes make you root for her. Using jokes is not a problem unless it makes your story meaningless. Perhaps that’s one thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe should focus on to ensure a better lasting legacy.

To read Patty Jenkins’s full interview click here.


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